He’s an immigrant with one less problem and a dream to change the world.
In Sanskrit, his name means patience and courage, and that’s exactly what Mr. Dhairya Pujara had to employ over the last year and half as he fought to obtain a work visa that would allow him to stay in America and grow his startup, Y Center, which creates community centered projects in the fields of healthcare and education.
His student visa expired on January 6th, 2015, and he hadn’t heard anything from anyone since he applied on Christmas Eve. The worrying kept Mr. Pujara up for a month, but yesterday he received the good news that he’s been granted a work visa for three years and the first news organization to get the call was Techbook Online.
“I was able to prove to the United States of Immigration Services that I’m an individual with extraordinary capabilities,” said Mr. Pujara, as we sat in Rittenhouse Square Park, minutes before a meeting with his adviser.
Our meeting turned into a quick trip down memory lane, relieving every step that led up to this great moment, starting with Mr. Pujara’s first time telling his story of self.
After Techbook Online published the post “Indian Entrepreneur Wants to Call Philly Home,” Mr. Pujara received a call from Mr. Michael Maher, CEO, Benjamin’s Desk, who read the article and offered the then 25 year-old a free desk at his 17th & Walnut co-working space.
Mr. Pujara said being downtown presented “access to premier connections in the City.” After finding a space to grow his brand, Mr. Pujara was then awarded a 2014 Philly DoGooder Award, which, as result, connected him to the lawyer that handled his immigration case.
“This wouldn’t have happened in any other country in the world,” he said.
In March, Mr. Pujara and two Drexel University students will travel to Mozambique and assist in fighting Malaria through a SMS app that they created at Y Center’s Impactathon.
“The data is never reported,” said Mr. Pujara, referring to the number of people living with the disease and sleeping under mosquito nets. “Without data,” he continued, “the decisions being made are not intelligent ones. They (philanthropists, corporations, foundations) send mosquito nets from America, but that puts the local mosquito net makers out of business. Also, they usually use the mosquito nets for fishing, as they’d rather live with Malaria and not die of hunger.”
Mr. Pujara tells me that the app will not use the Internet, instead it’ll rely on a service called Twilio. In addition to the app, the “individual with exceptional capabilities” is working on a solar power cell phone charger.
“The challenge is making it cheaper; making it in Mozambique in order to create jobs and have a distribution model that enables everyone to get their hands on it. It’s not a technology challenge, it’s a business problem,” said Mr. Pujara, who suggested that if everyone can have access to Coca-Cola, they can have should have access to solar powered phone chargers, particularly since electricity in some African countries isn’t guaranteed.
This trip in March—and many more like them, where Mr. Pujara has an opportunity to take American students outside of the classroom and “set them up for failure”—validates the new, special title he so proudly carries.
If you ask Mr. Pujara, who in this moment can’t contain his excitement, whether he’s deserving of the recent string of good luck, he’ll say yes. But, at the same time, he only wishes that the moniker stated an “individual with an extraordinary community.”
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™